TAKE IT FROM ME: Time to toss those old HDMI cables

Well, friends, it happened to me again. This time, as I was moving some things around in the spare room. This isn’t a terribly complicated entertainment setup… just a streaming box and a TV. And yet, it’s never really worked right. Sometimes the streaming box would turn on the TV as requested. Sometimes, not. Sometimes there would be weird audio glitches. But who cares, it’s a guest room. And when was the last time I had a guest?

HDMI strikes again

As I was cleaning things up, I happened to take a look at the HDMI cable I was using. I’ve had dozens of these over the years, and they’re a pretty motley lot. This one had to have been one of the first ones I bought. How did I know? There were two dead giveaways. First of all this cable was insanely thick. Like, thicker than coaxial cable. But what really gave it away… was the Radio Shack logo. Radio Shack closed its stores about six years ago, but I’d given up on them long before. When you work for a great company like Solid Signal, why do you need Radio Shack? So this cable was easily from the 2010s. I suspect that I bought it in about 2005 when I was first getting into high definition. Even then I shopped online for stuff like this, so I would only have gone to “The Shack” if I needed something right away.

Here’s how it went down

I’ve been using Solid Signal’s HDMI cables for years. I had a few of these Sewell High Speed HDMI cables around from another project. They’re inexpensive, slim, and relatively attractive as HDMI cables go. So I took out that old Radio Shack cable and put in one instead. The TV started up faster, I swear. I know maybe it shouldn’t. Some of you will say it couldn’t. But I’m telling you it did. And nary an audio problem in sight.

After all these years I was done in by another bleepin’ HDMI cable.

Toss them. Toss them all.

If you’re like me you’ve probably spent the last 15 years or so just acquiring HDMI cables when they’re on sale, or putting the supplied ones you don’t need into a box. Because friends depend on you, and you do some temporary installations, right? At least I do. But I’m telling you now that I’m going through my own box of cables and getting rid of any HDMI cable that’s unbranded, older than I can remember, or just looks beat up in any way. It’s time.

The HDMI standard itself has evolved and with it have come newer cables. Yes, the connectors still look the same. Yes, it’s all still digital and you can argue that it shouldn’t make a difference. But those small changes in the construction of a cable really do make that difference. Today’s 4K HDR televisions need roughly eight times the amount of data. That means better quality connections, thicker cables, and better testing. Those old 2005-style HDMI cables just aren’t up to the task.

Hey, I didn’t really believe it either until it happened to me enough times. So do yourself a favor and replace all the HDMI cables you have. Toss those old spares. And of course, shop at Solid Signal for all new HDMI cables as well as everything else you’ll need to live your best digital life.


About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 8,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.